Tejas Nair | April 29, 2017
The frenzy and thirst for more that the first part started and caused in 2015 had to be quenched by content that has more power, more action and more grandeur. This epic romantic drama, which is South Indian director S S Rajamouli’s eleventh feature film, has the combined effect of all these factors, but is unsurprisingly let down by lack of logic.
Resuming exactly where the first part ends, the story follows king- slave Kattappa’s (Sathyaraj) narration of the past events that occurred in the Mahishmati kingdom and how they directly led to its degeneration under the rule of the foxy and narcissistic Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati). Shiva (Prabhas), upon realizing his lineage, has to save the kingdom now and settle some scores…
Predictability is all over the place as you follow the flashback story involving Baahubali (Prabhas), who uses a method previously sampled by the protagonist in the 2005 Tamil film “Ghajini”, to woo Devasena (Anushka Shetty), the fiery queen of a nearby smaller kingdom. Baahubali, with ample help from Kattappa, fool around with Devasena, as humor and borderline slapstick enter the concoction (but do not stay for long), which soon shifts to high drama as the loverboy’s brother, Bhallaladeva, now has his eyes on Devasena. It’s a ploy actually, which he masterminds with help from his crippled father, Bijjaladeva (Nassar). What ensues is a game of shifting, smarmy egos and value of integrity between Bahubali and his aunt, Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan), whom he regards as his mother. How things take a swift turn to what led to the events in the first part is what essentially the first two hours of this film is. It is up to Shiva to bring back the kingdom’s glory by doing what is right: unshackle Devasena, his mother, and take back what is lawfully his.
There is enough substance for an average film-goer to look at and appreciate here. Starting from the opening credits, which poses as a prologue and a visual narration of the first part so that you can brush up, to the high-octane stunts that defy logic and science to derive magic, the good old melodrama, and an obvious yet satisfying answer to the eternal question derived from part one’s climax. While Baahubali 1 banked on structural storytelling and a pretentious climax to hook its viewers, Baahubali 2 uses more firepower and style. On that front, it is imperative that we give the makers full marks for efforts and storytelling. Romance between Baahubali and Devasena is strictly martial, but is still palpable to our hungry senses. As is evident from the loads of social media mentions lauding both of these characters’ authenticity and idealism, if there is one thing that you will take away from the Baahubali films, it is the virtues that these characters adopt and explicitly endorse. Also, there is this faint sampling of didacticism swaying around in the plot – whether it is trying to erect a feminist character like Devasena or showcasing the brutal kingdom affairs of the bygone era or the sexist nature of things – the pedagogical element is present, making the film overwhelming to some.
Having said that, there cannot be any excuse to the substandard CGI that is at show here. The degree of implausibility blows through the roof, yet it’s the heroism that comes to the rescue in every single frame. Why the characters do not succumb to their injuries may be retorted by mythological and religious references, but for a learned viewer, there are going to be issues with the film. Weighing these issues with the grandeur and volumes of melodrama makes us reach to a conclusion which is slightly positive, only if you consider the entertainment value.
Director Rajamouli’s storytelling should be lauded, and film students may want to take notes. He directs his cast well, and in order to describe them, we must first appreciate the casting. I cannot imagine anyone else playing these characters with such finesse and fidelity. Prabhas is magnificent in his portrayal as the hero of the people, and puts up a tireless show in both the films. His nuanced performances as Shiva and Baahubali – two characters with little difference – can be counted as one of the biggest defining factors of the franchise’s success. Same goes for Daggubati as the classic villain. However, if I had to choose one star who shines like the greatest of all, it is Shetty, with her electric performance as Devasena. Sure, Baahubali supports her as the independent woman that she is, but her idiosyncratic stances on causes that matter to her, and her dialogues are all so defining (and relatable to the recent feminist uprising), it will be harder to not understand why she is the cinematic character of the year. Nassar and Krishnan are equally good, but Sathyaraj is the man who will be remembered for his role and portrayal years from now, after Prabhas.
Overall, there is enough for viewers to both love and hate here. Which side you delve into more depends on how you perceive the sequences that make up the film. If you are someone who judges a film’s watchability on the basis of its score, screenplay, and cast performance – then this is going to be a fun affair. If you aim for the plot holes or the poor CGI, then disappointment is going to be your friend.
BOTTOM LINE: S S Rajamouli’s “Baahubali 2 : The Conclusion” is a tightly-packed doll of goodies about kings, queens, love, and deceit that will entertain you most of the time. Arguably, one of the most entertaining films of 2017, if you choose to watch it, do it on the big screen. Go for a weekday show!
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